US (WI): 8,000 pounds of lettuce for 80,000 salads: Howard-Suamico Schools grows greens in class

The Howard-Suamico School District is giving farm-to-table a new meaning by growing fresh lettuce in its classrooms.

With the help of a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant and the support of local partners, the district has 29 hydroponic garden towers that will allow students to grow fresh produce year-round, using nutrient-rich water instead of soil.

The district received a $146,000 grant from the USDA for the project — the only school district in the country to receive it. It also got $58,000 for the project from U.S. Venture and the Schmidt Family Foundation.

The district estimates that each tower will produce 25 pounds of lettuce every month, amounting to about 7,800 pounds of lettuce in the next year. That's roughly a third of the lettuce that the district uses for its school meals each year.

With inflation and supply chain issues still affecting school food service departments, growing the lettuce at school removes some of those barriers, according to Laura Rowell, the district's school nutrition director.


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